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Jack Vance is one of my favourite authors. A real wordsmith, with a wicked sense of humour.
He only died last year, BTW.
AFAIK, the Vancian magic system appears in the Lyonesse trilogy (of which books I and III are the best), and the Dying Earth books (a short story collection of the same name + Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous).
I've read all of these books at least twice. The Lyonesses ones are quite epic - if you want a short introduction then either the Dying Earth short stories or The Eyes of the Overworld novel are the place to go.
I love them.
NPCs with character classes represent about 5% of the population.
PCs are superior to NPCs with character classes because they have superior stats and a couple of traits.
PCs are governed by the same rules as NPCs - i.e. the inhabit the same "world", have the same concerns, advantages, barriers, hangups, etc.
That's it - everything else is down to the player.
My definition of heroism is similar to my definition of bravery, honesty, integrity and so on. It's something that you earn by your actions, not a label you can just pin on yourself whenever you want to.
You have to declare that you're using Guidance before making the roll.
We've been getting this rule wrong for more years than I can remember.
P.S. If as a GM you ask your player to make a DC 20 Fort save, for example, then by RAW you have (rather unfairly) prevented him from using his Improved Great Fortitude re-roll.
I understand where the discussions are funneling down to and I do understand where you guys are coming from.
However I have difficulty, I must admit, abandoning the premise that the fantasy world should be a natural repercussion of the rules.
Paying attention to logic means we can have the sorts of discussions we've been having in this thread even during the game. As long as we, as players, and GMs, believe that the setting makes reasonable sense, then we can start interacting with it in terms of its own logic, rather than in terms of the rules.
I know there is a limit to this, but it's a limit I'm quite careful about pushing. And when I write material for other GMs to use, I worry quite a lot about setting-logic.
I'm also not terribly keen on the idea that PCs should have options available to them which the NPCs don't.
To my mind the game is the most fun when not only does the world feel real but also the PCs only have *some* measured / controlled advantage.
In D&D/Pathfinder PC advantage comes down to superior stats and access to PC classes in a world where only 5% of the remainder of the population is good enough to do the same. That's enough of an advantage for me - I don't really need the odds to be further tilted in my favour by being, for example, the only witch that can choose her patron.
I can accept the fact that every character in this fantasy world whose skin I inhabit is one of the superior ones. We none of us want to role-play farmers. However once I'm part of the PC-classed elite, I'm happy for all of us, PCs and NPCs, to be in the same boat.
If the world loses too much of its logic or I start to become too *special* within it then, within reason, which I know is woolly and subjective and all the rest of it, I start to disengage from it.
Finally I would like to say that whilst I think that these discussions we've been having are fascinating, lead to further appreciation and understanding, I do not believe that they can ever be conclusive.
I posted earlier about how nice it would be to be able to simulate the Pathfinder world using a supercomputer and see how things turn up after a century or so. Not only do we not have such a thing, I honestly do not believe that anyone on this earth could possibly predict how it would turn out. It's far too complicated.
We all have our opinions and it's great to share them and argue over them but I don't think anyone can ever imagine that they can actually work out the answer. What I hope is that we roughly speaking converge or something we think is likely - i.e. sufficiently logical that we can think about what advice we might give to, say, some village leaders when they hear giants have moved in the area. Go find yourself a witch? Build up your defenses? Send an emissary? Etc.
The way you're evaluating probabilities - it makes it sound as if you think the Witch will never get a chance to use its Hex - or maybe once in its career!
I think that if that had been the case then this thread wouldn't have got past about 10 posts.
You will always be able to argue that the chances of any given set of circumstances occurring is ridiculously low.
However you have to factor in all the other sets of circumstances that work plus the number of opportunities that there are for any of those situations to happen.
IMVHO - Slumber Hex opportunities, both in play and in world-setting, are quite common.
As for Charm Person, I don't think it's that strong. I don't do what my trusted friends tell me to do. I listen to them. I don't attack them. But if I think I know best I follow my own convictions. Charming a Hill Giant, assuming you can then talk to it, is probably just going to result in a pat on the back and an invitation to "dinner" afterwards.
At first level you don't meet the prerequisite of having the hex class feature. You need to meet the prerequisites BEFORE you take a feat not as you gain something at a particular level.
That's, actually, not correct. From the SRD:
"When adding new levels of an existing class or adding levels of a new class (see Multiclassing, below), make sure to take the following steps in order. First, select your new class level. You must be able to qualify for this level before any of the following adjustments are made. Second, apply any ability score increases due to gaining a level. Third, integrate all of the level's class abilities and then roll for additional hit points. Finally, add new skills and feats. For more information on when you gain new feats and ability score increases, see Table: Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a 1st level Witch (with Slumber) and a 1st level Fighter encountered a Frost Giant (toe-to-toe), who would win?
Prior to the Slumber Hex, going back right to the beginnings of D&D, the answer would be the Frost Giant - hands down, no contest.
Now, it's 50/50. Pretty much - allowing for the initiative roll (which the Witch ought to win) and the coup-de-gras (which the Giant ought to fail, especially if the fighter has a Greataxe).
I know that Slumber Hex has been debated before, but it does seem like quite a big deal to me. It certainly spells the demise of the solitary monster encounter - unless it's immune to sleep.
It also means there's a massive difference between a party with a Witch with Slumber and one without. Sure, the Witch might on balance not be out of balance (not sure about that, but whatever), however having one on board makes quite a bit difference to the way that a number of encounters are going to play out.
@nate - I did read your post, yes, and I see what you mean. Having said that, Summoners are one of the few classes that I haven't really tried to get to grips with.
@Pupsocket - the "where it counts" is indeed the issue, and about how much more important it is to be where it counts as opposed to elsewhere.
This is also about whether you maximise strengths or minimise weaknesses.
In my group, for example, we have found that having optimised fighters with bad will saves is a liability for the party, because at some point they end up confused or dominated and turned against us.
Is it really better for a fighter to have STR 18 WIS 7 as opposed to STR 16 WIS 13?
(or WIS 12 and +1 on some other dump stat)?
Sure, the argument will be more favourable with CHA with fighters, but I still wonder whether how much sense there is in eeking out that final +1 stat bonus when it's costing you +3 somewhere else.
Although druids and the like replacing their animals sounds cool, don't forget that they arrive untrained - i.e. they will only have their free tricks.
There is no such thing as a light club or a two-handed club, and a greatclub isn't a club (with particular reference to Shillelagh).
You can't AoO something swimming past you if you are on land unless you have Freedom of Movement because they get improved cover from you (+8 AC!)
Zombies lose their special attacks (e.g. zombie Giant Squids cant constrict).
Great product (just got mine).
However, only one pawn was mounted, and that was actually the pawn for the camel (it's funny how pathfinder assumes that a camel isn't a camel if it hasn't got a saddle on and, preferably, a rider).
Anyway, might a suggest a "mounted npc pawn pack" for sometime in the future?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Rolemaster's alive and well, actually (see http://ironcrown.com/).
Further to JJ's comment here:
w.r.t. the saves rather than whether gibbering should be sonic, could we please have the DC changes made in the faq.
It is a pretty big difference to the challenge difficulty of a Gibbering Mouther.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
You're probably thinking of the pre-3E market research by Wizards of the Coast, which revealed that most campaigns only last 6 months or so.
I'm sure you're right. I wonder what the reasons for this are and what's happening now.
@Vic: Please excuse me posting one more time on this discussion Scott and I have been having but I'll keep it brief.
@Scott: My perception of the risk of adventuring is different to yours. I know the game is played a bit differently now but I think that an adventuring group that thinks, plans, invests in healing and defence and, most importantly, knows when to run away, has a pretty good survival rate. Furthermore, the rewards in terms of ensuring future survivability (money and levels) makes the risk worthwhile, whereas forsaking this by going up levels of commoner or expert could well, in the long term, be a more risky strategy for longevity. Only my opinion, of course, and I'm sure we can agree to differ.
It's pointless asking me why I might expect a trend to change when neither of us have any idea what that trend has been.
The only survey-based fact that I have ever heard, and I can't remember where it was, was that most gaming groups only last 6 months or so.
Even then, I might be wrong, however if you know of any statistical analysis along these lines that we can all look at then please point in the right direction.
The reason that I am concerned about GM shortage is because I think over the last 10+ years or so GMing enjoyment has been sacrificed for the sake of player enjoyment.
I've been GMing since 1979, and I certainly feel that way from my own experience. I love all of Paizo's material, but I love it much more as a player than as a GM. I've changed from someone who used to be happy to GM constantly to someone who would rather play than GM, though I'm happy do my fair share of GMing both for the sake of the group and because I enjoy it as long as I'm not doing it all the time.
This is entirely on the basis of my own personal experience, which is all I am qualified to comment on, nothing to do with underlying logical factors or world-spanning charts or examples. If my experience is typical, then I *feel* that there is a danger that good GMs will start to become harder and harder to come by.
And if I'm in any way right, then I think that gaming companies, like Paizo, need to try to look ahead 5 or 10 years to see if there is a trend. And if there is, and there may well not be, and I might be completely wrong, but *if* there is, then I think that the game needs to start repositioning itself a little bit towards a more gestalt approach to players and GM, where GMs are seen more as the "keepers of secrets" for a given module rather than anything with any more power or accountability, and where it is expected that the role of GM will rotate between the members of the group.
Scott Betts wrote:
I don't think that the GM population is in any danger of abandoning Paizo due to a perception that not enough setting material is being produced. As we've noted, they're churning out more setting material than just about any other company right now. Even if the GMs did decide to jump ship (and they won't, because Paizo is meeting or exceeding their needs), they'd have no better option to turn to.
Well, you're speaking as *every* GM now, and I don't think you know any more than I.
I think the biggest danger to this game will come through a GM shortage crisis. I, personally, reached the decision after the last 6 years of solid GMing that GMing was half-work-half-fun and playing was all-fun, so I announced to my group that I was no longer prepared to do it all and we now have a round-robin system which more and more players are joining in with. In my opinion, this was the best decision I ever made, because now we share the responsibility for rules policing, interpretation, judgement, and for everyone having a good time around the table, as well as sharing the work. I believe that in time this will happen more and more. I honestly think that's the future of the game.
Of course I know there are plenty of people out there right now who will be prepared to GM full time forever, though not always for the right reasons, I have to say. However I think that there will be a gradual movement towards GM sharing which might even eventually reach the stage where if you're not prepared to take your turn as GM you will find it difficult finding a group that's prepared to carry you along as a player.
Just my opinion, though!
I would like to add a cautionary note or two against rule-bloat.
Being a simulationist style player, the rules and the gaming world for me are inextricably linked.
When a new rule comes out that enables a PC to do something new, unless there's a good reason not to that means that every suitable NPC in the world can also do it. Which then means that the world has to react and change in the light of this new ability that has now become available.
The rules are like the physical laws of the universe. They drive what the world looks like. The more rules you have, however, the harder it is to understand their repercussions, and if you don't understand their repercussions you are in danger of making parts of your world nonsensical.
Or at least in need of change if you want it to be, in its own way, believable.
Rules bloat can also make adventure writing more difficult. The last thing any of us would like to see is disclaimers on adventures along the lines of "at the time of writing, this module provided a suitable challenge for four characters of Nth level as long as they included someone with the ability to do X but *not* someone able to do Y!"
Just my 2 cents worth
I'm a bit confused about what might or might not be allowed within the compatibility licence with regards to citations of other Paizo products.
For example, if you look at this amazon link:
- you'll see Mystery Monsters Revisited described under Book Description in a manner which I understand comes under the classification of a "citation".
Would that paragraph break the terms of the compatibility licence if it was in such a product, because it would be termed a reference rather than a citation?
Personally, what I would like to do (although it's not mega-important), is to have a citation along the lines of "Brazen Medusas are described in detail in Mythical Monsters Revisited by Paizo Publishing LLC" but I'm sort of scratching my head about whether that would be ok according to the licence or not.
There was a dungeon in Dungeon (3.5 days) where the para-elemental plane of Ooze had broken through into a city's sewer systems.
The gateway was two-way.
I was GM, and I tried to give plenty of clues as the party tried swimming through the stuff - "the sewerage is getting thicker and thicker, it feels like muddy water, maybe treacle, thick treacle ..."
6 out of 8 party members decided to go for it anyway.
Players (after realising they're not breaking through the stuff): "Can we get back?"
Me: "I suppose there's a chance you might just stumble across the gateway again if you try "swimming" in what you reckon might be the way you came ....."
We rolled some dice. They didn't come back.
I'll tell you the most evil thing I did as a GM:
The party opens a door into a room covered by magical darkness - of the deepest kind. A voice speaks from within:
"Please do not bring any light into this room as my gaze has a curse that it turns all it falls upon to ashes. There is an exit from the room at this end, however you must walk straight across if you are to avoid taking damage from trapped areas of brown mold under the floor."
There are, indeed, areas of trapped brown mold under the floor, which can be detected even through the darkness. However floating in the middle of the room is a sphere of annihilation.
The voice, of course, is just a magic mouth. Most of the party trusted it, even when they gathered that others were disappearing they just thought it was some sort of teleportal. Two players didn't trus it - they went around the room and found a mouldy skeleton on an old throne with a scepter and a crown. One put on the crown (loony) and thence gained the ability to turn people to ashes with his gaze, which he subsequently did to the other.
It was a very long time ago, and was my homage to Tomb of Horrors.
To my mind being *evil* as a GM is setting up situations where characters get themselves killed but can only blame themselves.
Another situation I set up when I was thinking along similar lines was having an imp being rude and unpleasant (but not attacking) players by the door to a room, then having the owning magic user have his most powerful death spell ready on the other side for the second the players opened the door. The players had simply forgotten that an imp can be a magic-user's familiar.
As a general request, I'd like to see a sidebar suggesting ways to extend an AP, possibly by linking in with other Pathfinder modules, for those of us who prefer to run their campaigns at a slower level progression rate.
More specifically with this AP, it would be great if it could be combined with Serpent Skull in some way to make it a 12 part classic.
What is the smallest viable humanish settlement on Golarion - a day or more's distance from a city?
What do the smaller habitations tend to look like in the wilderness? Do they tend to be open or, at the very least, surrounded with ditches, moats, pallisades, etc?
Might you, for example, find a village of 50 or so souls eking (sp?) out an existence somewhere in the Cairnlands?